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November 11, 2013

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Hazard reduction at Sellafield: ONR’s priority for action

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has cited hazard reduction at Sellafield’s nuclear facility as the nuclear regulator’s first priority in its inaugural chief nuclear inspector’s report.

Published on 5 November 2013, the UK nuclear industry’s watch dog has, for the first time in one report, prioritised nuclear sites based on an assessment of the potential hazard, categorising them according to the regulatory attention they require.

The independent assessment of nuclear safety and security standards across the nuclear industry identifies a number of sites that require greater levels of regulatory priority.

“In our independent judgement, some legacy facilities at Sellafield require a significantly enhanced level of regulatory attention and we continue to engage with the licensee to ensure improvements are made,” said Colin Patchett, ONR’s acting chief nuclear inspector.

According to the ONS, reducing the hazard at Sellafield is its first priority; nearly a quarter of its full-time inspectors work on ONR’s Sellafield programme to influence improvements in a variety of areas.

The nuclear regulator has also identified other sites that require an enhanced level of regulatory attention. These are Dounreay and the defence facilities at Devonport and AWE in Berkshire as well as the remainder of the nuclear facilities in the Sellafield estate.

After these sites, the ONS has given the remainder of the 37 licensed civil nuclear and defence sites that it regulates a routine level of attention, commensurate with the site’s hazard.

In addition to considering licensed civil nuclear and defence sites, the transport of radioactive materials and emergency planning, the chief nuclear inspector’s report provides an independent assessment of how the UK is meeting its international responsibilities on nuclear safeguards, lessons learned from Fukushima and the nation’s nuclear research portfolio.

To complement the report, which the ONS has announced it plans to publish annually, the regulator has also published Nuclear regulation in the UK, an explanation of the nuclear regulatory regime.

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